Do you want to create valuable change for your practice in a short space of time? How can you combine relaxation and full focus for a productive work session? Have you tried a sprint week before?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok answers Nikki Winchester’s question about how to structure a sprint week.
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In This Podcast
- Start with slowing down
- Use rituals
- Plan ahead
- Killing it
Start with slowing down
When you are gearing up to do a work sprint, first spend some time – even a day or two – slowing down.
The way we slow down in prep for this kind of work is important because … we really want to allow our brain to rest and to be calm. (Joe Sanok)
In slowing down, find things that you can do that center calmness and quieten the mind. Keep away from mindlessly scrolling social media, binge-watching series, or distracting your mind.
- Spending time in nature
- Getting a massage
- Doing some mindful exercise
- Taking a walk without distractions
Make use of rituals to help your mind complete a task before starting a new one, or to end a relaxation period before moving into the sprint itself.
Take one minute to go for a walk, do a stretch, have a warm beverage, practice some deep breathing, or even play some music to shift the mood.
This helps your mind to close off one task before starting the next, allowing your brain to focus better and to avoid feeling over-stimulated.
Figure out as many of the decisions [that] you need to make ahead of time. Where are you going to eat each day, can you make reservations? Can you order ahead? Can you have your assistant order ahead? (Joe Sanok)
Before your slowdown and sprint begin, iron out as many of the details as possible to safeguard your mental strength and to minimize decision fatigue.
- Do you need to exercise a little each morning? If so, where can you go for a walk?
- Which snacks do you prefer throughout the day?
- Is there a coffee shop nearby your accommodation?
Make these decisions before you leave so that you can stay in your mental-state flow as much as possible, and not use your energy on things that do not matter.
When you are preparing to start your sprint, take an hour to write down all the points that are important for you to get through. These could be:
- New products
- Benefits for staff
- Blogpost ideas
Let stuff rise to the surface and think through, “if I had just one of these things that was way better” … what thing is going to really help [you] feel better, what unlocks things [for you]? (Joe Sanok)
What is the one thing that would greatly improve and sustain the functioning of your work that you can now focus on?
Joe’s sprint structure
- Figure out before your sprint what you can achieve
- Have each sprint be 20-minutes long
- Have short breaks of quick exercise and avoid social media
- Get back to your goal until you have completed it
Books mentioned in this episode:
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- Use promo code ‘JOE’ to get three free months to try out TherapyNotes, no strings attached!
- Ask Joe A Question!
- Visit The Cincinnati Centre for DBT and check out Nikki Winchester’s profile on Psychology Today
Check out these additional resources:
- The Power of Regret with Daniel Pink | PoP 665
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- Apply to work with us — decision-making matrix for your next steps
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
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I’m Joe Sanok, your host and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. Every Wednesday we’re doing the Ask Joe show and actually we’re going to be peppering in some bonus episodes because we actually had Gusto come on for another series of sponsorships. So we’re doing four shows a week. At least for the next 12 weeks. We will see how many we end up doing past that. We might end up doing four shows a week, just trying to give you as much content. So it’s so cool to see how there’s folks that listen to the show, and you are just in the startup phase.
We’ve got Next Level Practice opening up another cohort in March. So you can get details on that over at practiceofthepractice.com/invite. We have people that are interested in growing or starting a group practice. We have Group Practice Launch over at practiceofthepractice.com/grouppracticelaunch. Then we have Group Practice Boss, forward slash /grouppracticeboss, which is supporting people that have group practices. So we have a membership community for every phase of practice and it’s just so exciting to see people thinking differently than maybe they used to.
To have done this since 2012, almost 10 years that we’ve done this, so it was late 2012 I launched the podcast. In the middle of 2012 I really got the website going. I mean, so it’s crazy. 10 years I’ve been doing Practice of the Practice. This year it’s going to be a decade. Should have some sort of celebration or something. Did the Ask Joe show that we do every Wednesdays where you get to submit your questions and it’s awesome.
A bunch of you submitted a ton of questions recently, so we’re going to keep doing this for a while. This one is from Nikki Winchester, from Cincinnati Center for DBT in Cincinnati, Ohio. What I love about this question is it’s time sensitive. So I actually prioritize this because Nikki said, if you could answer this before my trip on February 13th, I would be so grateful. So here you go.
Nikki says, “I really want to embrace the ideas you put forth on Thursday is the New Friday, I’ve scheduled to go away for several days and travel to an Airbnb in Nashville, Sunday, and check out at 10:00 AM on Friday in order to focus on admin and practice improvement work. Examples are all the things I need to be doing, but never have the time for, like improving my website, SEO, creating better systems, looking for better benefits for my staff, maybe writing blogs. How would you suggest I spend this time? I figured I would slow down on Monday and do some things around Nashville and then kill it Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Do you have any thoughts about this or how best to divide up or structure the time so I can be most productive?”
I absolutely love that people are taking the concepts from Thursday is the New Friday and saying, I want to level up. I want to do better. I want to just rock it out. So when we actually think about sprint types within the book, we talk about an intensive sprint where you are going somewhere away with focus. Then we also are looking at having kind of some diversity in it. It’s not going to be just a singular one thing that she’s working on. Instead, it’s a bunch of different things. So I really like the idea of slowing down in Nashville.
The way we slow down in prep for this kind of work is really important because when you’re in a city like Nashville, there could be the tendency to like go see a bunch of shows or walk around and see things that you haven’t seen before. But we really allow your brain to rest and to be calm. You know, Nashville’s a beautiful town. I was just there in August for Podcast Movement. I had this crazy hot dog. I was at a karaoke bar and then it was like time I was like, I need to go home. Then I saw this hot dog place. They had all these unique hot dogs, one had cream cheese and sriracha on it. I thought, well, that’s interesting.
I was wearing white pants. So as you can guess, it didn’t turn out terribly well for the white pants. But I’m a single dad and I can get stains out, which I did, sriracha stains on white pants included. So anyway let’s not have a typical Nashville relaxation. Let’s find some things that you can really enjoy in the nature around Nashville. There’s so many beautiful trails and hikes. I would even recommend maybe doing one of those float tanks where it’s a sensory deprivation chamber or seek out things like sound healing. There’s a lot of places that will do sound healing where it’s like different bowls and gongs and things.
Maybe get a massage. Really have it be a day where your brain can just relax. If you’re traveling on Sunday, you may want to even have some of Tuesday morning be some relaxation to you and just start killing it on Tuesday afternoon. Because it really takes our brains at least 24 hours to really kind of calm down. So maybe you get a massage or something on Sunday. I would say you want to have, after your travel, some sort of you very clear distinction as to when things start and when things end.
I think that some sort of ceremony can be really nice in that sense. So for example, with Slow Down School we pick everyone up at the airport in a big yellow school bus. Everyone’s been rushing from all over the country. Some people have had to take red eyes or maybe they got into Chicago the night before, spent the night there, got up, then flew up to Traverse City, like all sorts of things that happen in travel. So when they get on the bus, and I’ve done this every time. I believe probably with Slow Down School in 2022, we’ll do the same thing. I ring a bell and I say, “Your travel is over, Slow Down School is beginning, and then we just do one minute of meditation, which has kind of some bird noises, some nice calm music. I have it on a little bow speaker. So it’s good quality sound.
So we’re sitting in this big yellow school bus, that’s sort of uncomfortable like when we were kids and we’re realizing that that travel stress is over. When you do that for yourself, it allows your brain to stop worrying and running and relaxing, worrying about baggage claim or if you drove those sorts of things, and to just breathe into it; that you’re entering into something special, that you’ve given yourself week to work on your business, to work on your big ideas, to work on your staff. That’s really important work. That’s work that helps the world. I mean, even things like SEO, you’re making it that people that want therapy can find you. That really matters. So when we can start to really allow ourselves to rest into how important the work is that we do that really is important work.
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[JOE SANOK] So I would rest as much as you can on that Sunday night, Monday and a little bit Tuesday morning. I would say, figure out as many of the decisions you need to make ahead of time. So where are you going to eat each day? Can you make reservations? Can you order ahead? Can you have your assistant order ahead? Can you have the food delivered? Do you need to have some extra exercise each day in the morning? What would make each morning, even on work days, feel a little bit more special? Is there a coffee shop you could walk to each morning? Finding those things, what are the snacks that if you had those in your Airbnb, you could just keep knocking it out, if you’re killing it, and you don’t want to disrupt it and have to go eat somewhere else? So finding all those ways that you can stay in flow and not use your energy on things that really don’t matter.
I would say also so once we kind of slow down earlier in that week, what does it look like to kill it? I think that you’re going to want to take maybe an hour, that first hour to really just let what’s most important rise to the surface. So you listed out website, SEO, better systems, benefits for your staff, blog posts, all these different things. What should I do? Let that stuff rise to the surface and really think through if I had just one of these things that was way better. It went from a C minus to an A minus or an A. What thing is going to really help you feel better? What kind of unlocks things?
So if you aren’t getting enough new clients, it might be improving your website and your SEO. If you have a bajillion clients coming in and people are calling all the time, yes SEO’s important, but people are finding you. So maybe it is systems. Maybe your staff are. It’s not flowing as well as it should. You need to look at, do we need some automated systems? Maybe you have some amazing staff that you just want to keep there, which actually I’m going to be talking about that an a future Ask Joe. Maybe it will be the benefits for your staff and writing blog post that goes in with the SEO.
So really thinking through where are you at and what thing is the natural first step for the biggest stress in your life? You may find that none of those things that you listed in your question are the biggest things. You may find that you just need to figure out how to work five, fewer hours per week, because you want to spend more time with your family. You may have to figure out how to increase overall sales by 20% without you working harder. It may be that you realize with that slowing down, that you’re more burned out on therapy than you thought, and you need to do more groups or you need to hire a few more people.
So allow those things to unfold. Then I would use the sprint structure that we have in Thursday is the New Friday for your sprints. Have them be 20 minutes long, figure out before your sprint what’s the thing that you can achieve during that. So imagine you’re going to doing blog posts and SEO. Your first 20 minutes might be spent just researching on Google trends, all the things that are trending in your area, all the things that you think people would be looking at to get to your website, you’re doing some kind of backend SEO research. That may just be 20 minute right there.
The next 20 minutes might be structuring out a few blog posts, just their structure, not writing it. Then another 20 minute sprint might be, I’m going to write a full blog post in 20 minutes as fast as I can. You’re doing this so that you end with energy saying. I want to keep going, but you don’t. You take a couple minutes to move your body, do some jumping jacks, do a plank, step outside for a minute, come back in and kill it again. So even within it, you have these sprints where you’re just going full tilt, full tilt and then after each sprint, you’re saying, what did I achieve here? If I didn’t finish the blog post, what did I overthink? What do I need to do differently? There’s all these different things that you can do to just kill it.
I’m so excited. I hope you drop me an email Nikki and let me know how this goes, because I love that you’re enacting Thursday is the New Friday in a serious way that a lot of people maybe haven’t done.
Well, thank you so much for listening to this Ask Joe today. Therapy Notes is our sponsor today. Therapy Notes is amazing. They are the best electronic health records out there. So if you want to stay more organized this year, if you want to know where you’re at with your billing and all of that, make sure you switch over to Therapy Notes. You can sign up over at therapynotes.com and use promo code [JOE] at checkout. Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. I’ll talk to you soon.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. And this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.